Consistent exercise is beneficial for patients undergoing cancer treatment, but what intensity is best? New findings suggest that training cancer patients with both high-intensity and low- to moderate-intensity exercise is beneficial, so the decision can be left to individual preference.

Swedish researchers from Uppsala University studied 577 male and female patients ages 30–84 who had breast, prostate or colorectal cancer. Investigators randomly assigned subjects to either a twice-weekly high-intensity interval training group or 150 minutes per week of low- to moderate-intensity walking or biking. At the end of 6 months, the researchers assessed and compared participants’ data on mental and physical health measures.

What did  the study find? Intensity level didn’t seem to matter much. “The groups’ results didn’t differ in a clinically relevant way—that is, there was no difference likely to make a difference in the patients’ everyday life,” said joint lead study author Ingrid Demmelmaier, PhD, associate professor of physiotherapy at Uppsala University.

The research appeared in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports (2021; doi:10.1111/sms.13930).

See also: Exercise as Medicine in Cancer Care